Concentration Overview

"Creative writing and critical writing disciplines are too often viewed as separate and combative frenemies. When these two methodologies dance together under a full moon, real magic happens—a third entity is born. This third entity, the relationship between the two, is a synergistic understanding that can be lost when one is left to solo without the other" (Kristen Nelson, cw/cr PhD, from "Fleshing the Archive of Witches: A Creative/Critical Case Study of Somatic Synecdoche"  published in Feminist Studies)


Please refer to the Literature Ph.D. Program overview for more information.

Entering students complete all the requirements for the Literature Ph.D. with the addition of a creative/critical enhancement to their degree in the form of original creative work, with a critical introduction, and, if desired, work in poetics, translation, form and/or critical writing from the perspective of writerly practices.


For applicants to the Creative/Critical Writing concentration, the department requests the following additional materials: 20-25 pages of prose (at least one complete piece and an additional sample preferred), or 10-12 pages of poetry. The writing can be poetry, prose fiction, creative non-fiction, or hybrid/cross-genre.


The general requirements for all PhD students apply to the Creative/Critical Writing concentration:

  • The Proseminar, Literature 200, to be taken in Fall Quarter of the first year;
  • A one-quarter Pedagogy of Teaching/Teaching Assistant Training, Literature 201, to be taken prior to or in conjunction with the first Teaching Assistant appointment;
  • Twelve courses leading to the definition of an area of concentration.  At least two of these must be in a second-language literature; at least one must focus on pre-1750 literature and culture. Up to three courses may be taken in other departments (in exceptional cases, up to one additional course may be requested by petition); up to three may be independent studies;
    Creative/Critical Writing concentration only: Of the twelve courses a total of four courses must be Creative/Critical concentration-designated courses (Graduate Creative Writing Workshops and Methods and Materials); 
  • One two-credit advising course, Literature 291F, per quarter;
  • Three-quarters of supervised teaching experience;
    Creative/Critical Writing concentration only: Of the three-quarters of supervised teaching experience required, at least two will be in the undergraduate creative writing concentration;
  • The Literature Department’s intensive three-week Graduate Summer Language Program or equivalent;
  • A qualifying exam portfolio (includes an oral component);
  • A prospectus outlining and defining the dissertation project;
  • A dissertation (written in conjunction with Literature 299, Thesis Research).

Qualifying Examination and Dissertation

At least one member of the QE committee, normally the chair, must be from among the participating core faculty in Creative Writing, and at least one departmental member of the committee will not be one of these.  Students in the concentration will meet the requirements of the (revised) Ph.D. program Qualifying Examination, with the choice to substitute original creative work for the Qualifying essay requirement. This work may also be, if the student chooses, a hybrid creative/critical work.

Ph.D. candidates in the Creative/Critical Writing concentration may choose one of two options for the dissertation:

1. A book-length original creative project—novel, novella, collection of poems, collection of stories, creative non-fiction, or a hybrid/experimental form (including but not limited to digital/new media, performance/performativity/screenplay, the lyric essay) with a substantial critical chapter of at least 75 pages that locates the work in its literary and historical contexts; OR

2. A dissertation on theory, form, poetics or history of the novel/ poetry; a translation; a critical edition.


The following faculty are participating Creative Writing faculty mentors:
Christopher Chen
Micah Perks
Jennifer Tseng
Rob Wilson
Ronaldo Wilson

See Also